How Healers Became the New Gurus of Hollywood

Hollywood Gurus - H 2015
Illustration by Jungyeon Roh

Today's bold-named stars and execs — including Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz — are fessing up to their use of magical facialists, "mystic" chiropractors and soul coaches: "When a person feels 'felt,' the miracle happens."

Jayne Atkinson is on vacation — somewhere in Baltimore, she says — but her off-duty schedule still includes a phone call with her soul coach, an alternative healer named Denise Lynn. "Close your eyes for a minute, and I'm going to have you look in your body and find the space that doesn't feel safe to live in that feels — well, it doesn't feel safe to go," Lynn, who is based in New York City, instructs Atkinson during the session. "And I want you to tell me what color it is there."

"It's pretty black, honestly," Atkinson says softly.

"And how much water could it hold?" Lynn continues in a soothing, melodic voice.

Atkinson, an actress who is recognizable for her roles on 24 and House of Cards, has been utilizing Lynn's services for five years now and has made her an integral part of her family: Lynn conducts couples' sessions with Atkinson and her husband, actor Michael Gill, and also does parental counseling, advising them on their teenage son. The actress certainly is familiar with Lynn's talk of "spirit guides" and "cosmic trash cans" and waxes poetical about her abilities. "The wisdom and guidance she's provided as a conduit and intuitive counselor rearranged my life to make it 100 million times better — I do everything she says," Atkinson, who takes career and even real estate advice from Lynn, admits. "I think maybe it's because I'm an actress and I pride myself in taking direction." Lynn has a client list that includes Paul McCartney, Molly Simms, Dwight Yoakam and executive Adam Sher, and her services come at $300 to $450 a pop.

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But she is just one popular service-provider in the thriving business loosely defined as "healing." From New York to L.A. and San Francisco, it seems a large portion of the entertainment and tech communities are riddled with ailments, judging from the gainfully employed healers proliferating coast to coast.

A relic of California's woo-woo culture of the 1960s, when "good vibes" weren't something society snickered at, crystals, hypnother­apy, reiki and ancient studies are back and bigger than ever — just like bell-bottoms! But what do people need healing from, exactly, that antidepressants, Xanax, therapists, masseuses, medical marijuana and bartenders can't fix? According to L.A. healer Bettie Rinehart, the dark, unseen things we wouldn't want to be carrying around.

"I was working with a client, and she's lying on my table in the dark. We've talked for a while and I've done my thing with the rattles and feathers, then suddenly I see a snake go through her. I mean, I saw it," Rinehart recounts. "Then at the end of the session, she says, 'It's so weird, but I saw bright snakes — they were in me.' Snakes are symbols of powerful shedding energy. I channeled this medicine, and it came through me to get to her. It was exactly what she needed. And when things get this real, that's what is interesting to me."

An articulate former newspaper journalist with a master's degree in Russian, Rinehart didn't plan on becoming a snake-ridding rattle-shaker, but she says she always had a distinct awareness of a different, more spiritual reality. "I was very skeptical, but at the same time, quite attuned to unseen spirits," she says. One day, after a friend's healing hands alleviated Rinehart's persistent migraine, she was hooked. "I began to study shamanism and went to Peru to learn plant medicine." Ten years later, she's a full-time energy healer with a busy practice populated with writers, actors and artists. "I've studied reiki, Peruvian plants and sha­manism with The Four Winds Society. What I teach people is what they need to learn — whatever it is to allow for more peace inside." Rinehart's prices start at $110 an hour.

"The skin whisperer," otherwise known as LeAine Dehmer, is a unique Hollywood hybrid: a facialist/healer with a waiting list of three to five months. "You suffered a trauma at age 7," Dehmer whispers soothingly to a client who's reclined in a semi-trance. "Your father was barely present. You won't move forward until you let this go." Then she slathers a rose and tea-leaf holistic facial-synergy blend on the client's cheeks and massages it in. "And I can also help you with your oily T-zone."

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Dehmer's intuitive customized facials (lasting up to four hours) are not only anti-aging, but they also release emotional trauma and psychological pain through the pores with touch and talk. Everyone from Oprah's staff to Frances Fisher, Penelope Ann Miller and manager Joannie Burstein are loyalists who have been "face read" — and these are just the people she can mention. "You've got to let your soul out of bondage — even if it's through the pores" is Dehmer's mantra. Her facials range from $250 to $450.

Most healers, however, tend to concentrate on areas more vast than just the face — and with myriad combos. L.A.-based Harry Paul — aka "Harry the Healer" — has been reenergizing and realigning celebs, writers and producers for more than 26 years using a combination of body work, crystal healing, chakra clearing and shamanism. A former producer himself, Paul says his first client was John Schlesinger. "A famous writer flew me to Texas once a month for two years to work on crippling writer's block," he recalls. "After that, he won an Oscar. I debug and upgrade the human operating system and lead them to the end of suffering." A "clarissant" is how he likes to describes himself: "I feel what you feel. When a person feels 'felt,' the miracle happens." Paul's magic touch will set you back about $350 a visit.

New York City's Dr. Ilan Bohm, a licensed chiropractor who founded the Office of Integrative Medicine on Madison Avenue, arrived at his new-age destination following a more traditional route. "I kind of create a way for people to be empowered in their lives, just by hearing certain ways of understanding that have been kept a secret from most people," he explains, albeit vaguely. "I don't want to know what's wrong with you, I want to know what's right with you." Whatever he's doing, it seems to be working: His patient list is more starry than a night at the Oscars. "Ilan is the first person I call when I land in New York," David Geffen has preached. Gwyneth Paltrow, Meg Ryan, Sienna Miller, Calvin Klein, Barry Levinson and Anjelica Houston, too, have all been under his touch. While he claims what he does is more than just average chiropractor work (by combining his practice with ancient studies), there is a decent amount of treatment of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system involved. He also believes in manifesting your destiny ("I'm really, really big into manifesting") and taking control of your life. "It's not new medicine. It's the oldest medicine there ever was." But at $300 to $500 a visit, the prices are decidedly modern.

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Another medically trained professional who spends most of her time paddling away from the mainstream, Beverly Hills osteopath Vicky Vlachonis promotes the body's innate ability to heal itself. Most famous for the ancient Chinese suction-cupping rituals she performed on Gwyneth Paltrow (who was photographed with the telltale rings on her back), Vlachonis has a client list that reads like a tabloid dream: Cameron Diaz, Nicole Richie, Chris Martin, Katy Perry, Elton John and Claudia Schiffer all seek her help with the mind-body connection. "I use the musculoskeletal system as a decoder ring to diagnose body dysfunction," she explains. "Our emotions are born in our nervous system and trigger neurochemical changes, after which hormones are released in your endocrine system. If you have a negative thought, your nervous system will carry the imprint directly through your spinal column to all your vital organs." Her cure consists of hands-on therapies such as acupuncture, reflexology, craniosacral therapy and, of course, that oft-seen cupping thing. Prices are available upon request.

Many of those dubbing themselves "energy healers" are body workers with an extra touch of what rational­ists would call mysticism. Dana Kline, who is based in Santa Monica and charges $125 an hour, combines massage with ayurvedic techniques, aromatherapy and crystals — her services have been enlisted by a lot of the Paramount staff. Sameer Reddy, a former features editor for Vogue India, treats his clientele (made up of actors and fashion honchos) with what he calls "transformance." This is meant to be particularly helpful for those transitioning from bad relationships. "A current comes down from my heart chakra and transfers into the person," is how he describes his work. Prices are available upon request.

And it's not just the mind and body that need insightful realigning; there's the subconscious self to be considered. Based in Hollywood's Sunset Gower Studios, Mary Elizabeth Holmes keeps most of her A-list clients under wraps, but Kenneth Branagh and Alexander Skarsgard offer glowing rec­ommendations on her website (the latter thanking her for a successful audition). Commonly known as the "hypnotherapist to the stars," Holmes has been sought to help with cancer, insomnia, quitting smoking, creative blocks and all forms of anxiety. Actors in creative slumps get referred by other performers, acting coaches, casting agents — even shrinks: "Auditions create fear and anxiety — fight/flight is how the primitive brain experiences that. Hypnosis goes deeper, integrating the body with the mind. It's backed up by neuroscience — I help people make a new mind movie." Prices are available upon request, but it's bound to be one of the smaller filming budgets in town.

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The Magical, Mystical Medical Directory

From trauma facial extractions to a detox of the subconsciousness, the go-to guide for Hollywood’s most sought-after pseudo-certified services you never knew you needed.

Denise Lynn, Medical Intuitive and Healer (New York City), 310-493-3071

Dr. Ilan Bohm, Mystic chiropractor (New York City)

Bettie Rinehart, Energy healer and shaman (Los Angeles), 213-448-7599

Leaine Dehmer, Facialist healer/ skin behaviorist (Los Angeles)

Sameer Reddy, Energy Healer (Los Angeles)

Dana Kline, Energy Healer (Los Angeles)

Vicky Vlachonis, Oesteopath (Los Angeles)

Harry Paul, AKA Harry the Healer, Energy healer and shaman (Los Angeles)

Mary Elizabeth Holmes, Hypnotherapist (Los Angeles), 323-793-6623

Aryn Elaine Cole, Energy healer and reiki therapist (New York City)

This story first appeared in the Dec. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.